What Causes Canker Sores? – Nurse's Guide

If you currently have a canker sore or a few in your mouth you may be wondering what causes canker sores in the mouth. Perhaps you have had these annoying red, inflamed sores many times before. Canker sores are also called aphthous ulcers in the medical field, but I’ll keep this simple.

A canker sore is a painful open sore in the mouth. It can be yellow or white and is usually surrounded by an inflamed reddened area. A canker sore is never a malignant (cancerous) sore. It is benign, meaning it is not cancer. It is also not a herpes sore (herpes simplex).

For some reason they seem to happen in females or women more than they do in males or men. It doesn’t matter how old you are you can get them at any age. They often crop up when kids are in elementary school.

You can find canker sores on the inside of the cheeks, on the inside of the lips, on the palate and tongue and at the bottom of the gums.

It’s well known that canker sores can run in families. One of the reasons for this is because whatever is causing this ulcer may have some genetic cause or reason. I’ve found that people who have gluten intolerance and/or have celiac disease have canker sores until they stop eating gluten. This could be one genetic connection, since celiac disease is genetic and passed on in the genes although the genes still need to be triggered by something unknown. One can carry the gene but not have full-blown celiac disease yet or ever.

Some experts think it’s associated with the body’s immune system. Here again it could also relate back to celiac disease because gluten flattens the villi in the small intestine and nutrients can’t be absorbed so the immune system suffers and its defenses are broken down. So nutritional deficiencies could play a part.

Even if one doesn’t have celiac disease or is not gluten intolerant, they may be eating a bad diet. The standard American diet is lacking in a lot of good phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals and we don’t know what we’re missing that could cause canker sores. It’s thought that deficiencies in iron, folic acid, or Vitamin B-12 could play a part in developing canker sores.

The canker sores often crop up after a mouth injury due to dental work, getting braces doing aggressive tooth cleaning, or biting of the tongue or cheek.

Canker sores can also appear during emotional stress, during menstrual periods and when there are hormonal changes. Food allergies could play a part too. Then there is exposure in the mouth to various chemicals, irritating the sensitive tissues.

These are the most common causes of canker sores but there are many causes. There is much you can do to get rid of canker sores and stop them from ever appearing with the right treatments and remedies. There are many ways to get to the cause and find the best natural cure for canker sores.

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